Fielding Graduate University, based in Santa Barbara, California, has recently acquired a nationally recognized doctoral program in infant and early childhood development from The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL). This graduate program is dedicated to redefining and promoting each child's development to his or her fullest potential. The retitled PhD program, Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis in mental health and developmental disorders, remains a multi-disciplinary doctoral program specializing in conditions such as autism spectrum, sensory integration, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and mood disorders. This program is the only program in the world to award such a combined PhD degree.
Infant mental health, as defined in the World Association for Infant Mental Health Handbook (2000), addresses "the social and emotional well-being of infants and their caregivers and the various contexts within which caregiving takes place" (Fitzgerald & Barton, 2000, p.21). Because infant development is woven into an emergent, active system of relationships, each class in the program emphasizes human relationships as the fulcrum around which all coursework is built.
A unique aspect of this graduate program, which was conceptualized by Stanley Greenspan, PhD, is to link different disciplines within a relationship-based developmental framework. Students study multiple factors affecting an infant's and family's wellbeing within a multi-disciplinary framework including mental health, education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language development, and the neurosciences. The faculty teaches typical and atypical infant and family development using a curriculum that includes physiological, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, social, and cross-cultural perspectives. "ICDL has been proud to offer this program since 2007 and we look forward to the ongoing development of the program at Fielding" says the ICDL CEO, Jeffrey Guenzel. "This is a vital program that will continue to advance the field."
Katrina Rogers, PhD, president of Fielding Graduate University states, "We are so pleased to partner with ICDL in acquiring this high quality, nationally recognized and unique graduate program. Their areas of expertise are profound in the world of infant and childhood development. This new degree program will add to our array of offerings as we expand our footprint to serve this special population."
Current students enrolled in the program come from several core disciplines including psychology, social work, counseling, psychiatry, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language, and education. The students are attracted to this program because of the multidisciplinary individualized approach, and a distributed model that allows students to maintain their work life, family, and community responsibilities.
Don Cohon, PhD, president of ICDL Graduate School since 2012, remarked, "The ICDL Graduate School community is thrilled to announce that our program is becoming part of Fielding Graduate University, a WASC accredited institution of higher learning. The joining of our two schools achieves a long term goal of ICDL that will allow students the opportunity to obtain a PhD from an accredited university. ICDL and Fielding share a commitment to excellence in providing an interdisciplinary educational experience that draws upon a collaborative participatory approach to learning, and values the individuality of children, families, and communities. We are excited to be working together to provide our students with the knowledge and skills to make a significant positive impact on the field of infant and early childhood development."
The PhD Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis in mental health and developmental disorders program at Fielding Graduate University will begin in September 2014 with the existing students, and will enroll new students for the summer term beginning in April 2015.
Fielding Graduate University